French Street Artist’s 19-Year-Old Killer Sentenced to 60 Years

Bilal Berreni had painted casualties of the Arab Spring.

Bilal Berreni, family photograph Photo via: Detroit Free Press
Bilal Berreni, family photograph Photo via: Detroit Free Press

Dionte Travis, 19, was sentenced yesterday to up to 60 years in prison in the murder of French street artist Bilal Berreni, known as Zoo Project. Travis and three friends robbed and killed Berreni after losing money in a dice game, according to police.

Berreni had painted portraits of those who died in the Tunisian Revolution, and of refugees and migrants at the Libyan border.

Dionte Travis.<br>Photo: Michigan Corrections Department.

Dionte Travis.
Photo: Michigan Corrections Department.

“He was interested in what can be born out of chaos,” the artist’s father, Mourad Berreni, told the Detroit Free Press. “For him, it represented the failure of capitalism and believed that from that chaos something can be born.”

A mural by Bilal Berreni, aka Zoo Project.<br>Photo: via ekosystem.org.

A mural by Bilal Berreni, aka Zoo Project.
Photo: via ekosystem.org.

Referring to a drawing by his son, Mourad Berreni said that the work showed “a bunch of guys typing on computers all connected one to another to say that they are all dependent, an absurd society. That was Bilal.”

During the trial, which opened in September, Travis testified that he did not murder Berreni, but rather served as a lookout in the robbery. After stealing $80, prosecutors said that the street artist was shot in the face.

Two other suspects, 19-year-old Jasin Curtis and 21-year-old Drequone Rich, have both pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in separate trials, and were each sentenced to 23-40 years in prison.

Berreni’s body was found at the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects on Detroit’s east side in July 2013, but not identified for several months since he was not carrying identification. It was his second visit to Detroit.


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics